Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror
From the author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim comes an important book, unlike any other, that looks at the crisis in Darfur within the context of the history of Sudan and examines the world’s response to that crisis.
In Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani explains how the conflict in Darfur began as a civil war (1987—89) between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land in the south, triggered by a severe drought that had expanded the Sahara Desert by more than sixty miles in forty years; how British colonial officials had artificially tribalized Darfur, dividing its population into “native” and “settler” tribes and creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter; how the war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried unsuccessfully to address the problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency–but not to genocide, as the West has declared.
Mamdani also explains how the Cold War exacerbated the twenty-year civil war in neighboring Chad, creating a confrontation between Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi (with Soviet support) and the Reagan administration (allied with France and Israel) that spilled over into Darfur and militarized the fighting. By 2003, the war involved national, regional, and global forces, including the powerful Western lobby, who now saw it as part of the War on Terror and called for a military invasion dressed up as “humanitarian intervention.”
Incisive and authoritative, Saviors and Survivors will radically alter our understanding of the crisis in Darfur.
From the Hardcover edition.
Court (ICC) applied for a warrant for the arrest of the president of Sudan, Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, on charges that included conspiracy to commit genocide along with other war crimes.1 The application charges al-Bashir with (a) racially polarizing Darfur into “Arab” and “Zurga” or “Black,” (b) turning the 2003-5 counterinsurgency into a pretext to expel “Zurga” ethnic groups from their dars, and (c) subjecting survivors to “slow death” from malnutrition, rape, and torture in the IDP camps.
directly by India. Like the United States and Sudan, India also refused to sign the Rome Statute. India's primary objection had to do with the relationship between the Security Council—of which India is not yet a permanent member—and the ICC. The Rome Statute gives the Security Council minimal powers of oversight over the ICC: The council has the power to require the ICC to look into particular cases and to forbid it from considering other cases. India's “basic objection was that granting powers
killings (chiefly the Fur, Massalit and Zeghawa tribes) do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic groups to which persons or militias that attack them belong. They speak the same language (Arabic) and embrace the same religion (Muslim). In addition, also due to the high measure of intermarriage, they can hardly be distinguished in their outward physical appearance from the members of tribes that allegedly attacked them. Apparently, the sedentary and nomadic character of the
for Peace, ed. Alex de Waal (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2007), 70. 92. As Ian Cunnison has noted, “The study of people after people shows that genealogies are altered to make them suitable reflections of group arrangements at any given time. These alterations may take the form of elision of generations, the merging together of collateral branches, the incorporation of total strangers, and the exclusion of groups who, having moved away, are no longer relevant.” Cunnison,
“Africans” and “Arabs.” As I show in part three (“Rethinking the Darfur Crisis”), the effect of the drought was filtered through colonially crafted institutions, which divided Darfuri society into two groups: tribes with dars (tribal homelands) and tribes without. The more drought and desertification devastated entire groups, the greater was the tendency for tribes without homelands to be set against those with homelands. The conflict unfolded along two axes. Each pit tribes looking for land (a